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A community project supported by Bromford is brightening up a busy high street, just as shoppers return after the coronavirus lockdown.

New planters are being installed up and down Staple Hill High Street and Broad Street and old planters are being filled with new plants as part of the Growing Staple Hill project to bring some colour and interest to the area. The aim is to reduce pollution, encourage community interaction, promote inclusion and integration and increase the footfall using Staple Hill. Planters were installed last week in Fountain Square and were immediately gaining praise from passers-by and on Facebook.

The planters have been funded thanks to a £3,000 donation from our West of England Locality Influence Network. It was part of thousands of pounds the housing association gave out to local groups and organisations to fund community projects in the area during the year.

One of the planters has been filled with herbs that local people will be able to take cuttings from for their own use. Other planters have been filled with bee-friendly plants, pollinators and those that help reduce emissions in the air.

One of the new planters in Staple HillThe project in Staple Hill is being led by Be Empowered Farm Futures (BEFF), a local charity that uses horticulture and animal therapy as well as other meaningful and purposeful activity to support vulnerable, isolated and disadvantaged people. BEFF has been running a gardening club in nearby Page Park and together with local councillors, the Staple Hill Partnership and the Friends of Page Park, looked to build on this success to improve the high street.

Maria Needs, a trustee at Be Empowered Farm Futures, who made the funding application, said: “We did some work earlier in the year and lots of people were stopping and talking to us about what we were doing and asking to get involved. We started with four people and the numbers kept growing. We had intended for the group to be involved with making, painting and planting them, but we weren’t able to because of coronavirus. Luckily at the start of the year, the group was heavily involved in stripping out the original planters and filling them with a spring collection. As well as being included in the choosing of the plants for the new planters. One person, who is severely dyslexic, went into a library for the first time with their support worker, to research bee-friendly plants. Over the past few years BEFF have had many successes and achievements supporting isolated people by providing a friendly environment where people can integrate, learn, have fun and do something purposeful.

"And that’s what this is all about, it’s a really good project to encompass lots of people. When they’re all in place we’d like to give one person from the community the opportunity to be responsible for each planter. Many of the group live in flats and do not have gardens of their own.

Additionally, once all the planters are in place factsheets about each planter will be put together and given to local schools, to give teachers new activities for outside learning so pupils can learn more about biodiversity, the environment, climate change, plants and we aim for the planters to act as a springboard for other topics.

If you’d like to get involved, the gardening group will be meeting again in Fountain Square on Wednesdays from 10.30am – 12.30pm (as soon as it's possible and once the coronavirus pandemic has eased). For more information keep an eye on the Be Empowered Farm Futures and Staple Hill and Mangotsfield Residents group on Facebook.

Writing about all things housing related for more than 10 years.

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